Word that another national restaurant chain may soon call Knoxville home has East Tennesseans buzzing.
"Knoxville has always been a hot spot for restaurants," said Justin Cazana, a founding principal and broker with Cushman and Wakefield. "Knoxville has more restaurants per capita than almost any city in America, really the only ones in front of it are Los Angeles, New York, and maybe a couple of others. It's been a test center for different restaurants over time, and really any time a new name comes to Knoxville, there is excitement about it. They want to see what's new, they want to try the latest concepts, and that's what's exciting about Cheesecake Factory."
Cheesecake Factory officials confirmed to 10News they are working with Simon Properties, which owns West Town Mall.
Documents submitted to the Metropolitan Planning Commission show plans for a 7,500-square-foot restaurant on the Morrell Road side of the mall, between JCPenney and Belk.
"It's really these big retailers moving on into some of the smaller markets," Cazana said. "They've saturated the big cities, they've saturated Nashville and Atlanta, they need to move where there's new money and new exposure."
When word broke Thursday night, cheesecake was trending on Twitter in Knoxville, and WBIR's Facebook post had nearly 1,400 likes and more than 100 shares.
Cheesecake Factory is just the latest in a string of national chains to pop up in Knoxville, from Chuy's to Cheddar's to Publix to Trader Joe's.
"The reaction has been overwhelming because there are some truly national brands - Cheesecake Factory's well-known, they've been around for 30 or 40 years - and then you bring in a group like Chuy's, which doesn't have a huge presence around the country, but there's a lot of excitement about it," Cazana said. "Everyone's excited because it's a cosmopolitan-type restaurant. I know I've been here Sunday mornings before 11 o'clock, and they've had a line before they've even opened, and so, people are excited about having new restaurants like this."
If the Cheesecake Factory's plan is approved, the restaurant would jut out into the parking lot, shifting the main drive and taking up several parking spaces.